Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific to cut 6,000 jobs; axe regional brand Cathay Dragon

Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways will cut around 6,000 jobs or 18% of its workforce, and axe regional brand Cathay Dragon to help it weather the coronavirus pandemic.

Cathay Pacific said it expected to run at 10% of its pre-pandemic passenger capacity for the rest of 2020. Passenger numbers in September fell 98.1% from the same month last year.

The numbers include the airline’s budget carrier Cathay Dragon.

“September rounded off what has been an incredibly difficult summer, traditionally the peak passenger travel season of the year,” said Cathay Pacific Group chief commercial officer Ronald Lam, in the airline’s monthly business update.

The airline said it expected to be operating at a quarter of its capacity for the first half of next year before passenger numbers start to recover in the second half of 2021.

“Among the multiple scenarios studied, this one is already the most optimistic that we can responsibly adopt at this moment,” said Mr Lam.

However, the forecast depends on the widespread availability of a vaccine by mid-2021.

The airline industry has been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) tipping this year’s traffic to be 66% below the level it was in 2019.

The travel downturn has been particularly difficult for airlines such as Cathay Pacific and Singapore Air, which do not have domestic routes to soften the blow of international travel bans.

Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon carried a total of 47,061 passengers in September. Last year, the two airlines carried 35 million passengers on more than 81,000 flights.

The airline secured a US$ 5 billion bailout plan from the Hong Kong government earlier this year.